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Milwaukee Brewers trade target: Max Scherzer

Imagine one of the best pitchers of a generation in a rotation of Woodruff, Burnes, and Peralta

MLB: San Diego Padres at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Word on the street is that Max Scherzer could be had in trade if all of the stars align and the seas part just right. To get Scherzer, a lot would have to happen, and the likelihood that the Milwaukee Brewers would be the team to get him seem even more remote. That acknowledged, you never know.

As I mentioned, a great deal would have to work out for any team to get Scherzer, much less the Brewers, but they might not ever have a better shot of bringing him to Milwaukee than they do now. Right now Scherzer is pitching to his classic Hall of Fame level. He has posted a 2.83 ERA while striking out more than 12 per 9. He has already posted 2.5 fWAR, and he continues to be one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. Putting him in a rotation of Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta makes the Brewers one of the favorites to win a World Series no matter what other acquisitions are made by any other team, in the opinion of this writer.

There is some room for concern, however. Over Scherzer’s last two starts, both against San Diego, he has given up 11 runs in 10.2 IP. Could it be just a lull in the middle of the season for him? Could it be a bit of dead arm? Could it be the sign of an injury? Outside of his first start of the season against Atlanta that saw him give up 4 home runs and an April 27 start against Toronto that saw him give up 2 long balls, the past two starts in succession have been his worst of the season. Scherzer has been smoked over his last two starts as you can see below.

Max Scherzer hard hit stats for 4/8/2021-4/18/2021

Those are not Scherzer numbers as his season hard hit statistics are much better.

Max Scherzer pitching percentiles
Baseball Savant

It might behoove any team to see how his next start goes before pulling the proverbial trigger on a trade. If Scherzer is healthy though, the contending team that picks him up immediately gets a Game 1 starter for any playoff series. He is one of the best and on the Brewers, the “out getting” capabilities of this team become beyond compare. That is especially so once the playoffs come around.

For the Brewers to get him, so much would have to happen however. First of all, the ownership group for Washington already vetoed a deal in 2018 that would have sent Bryce Harper to Houson in his walk year. That came back to bite them. That experience might make them wiser to the need to get something for their star player during a free agent season that sees their team falling out of contention. However, they might just do the same thing again.

Also, Scherzer has 10 and 5 rights that grants him full veto power of a trade. According to Scott Boras, Scherzer’s agent, an acquiring team would have to give him an extension. That might be too much for the Brewers’ front office to pull off. Still the soon-to-be 37 year old is still pitching at the top of his game. Would the Brewers’ have the capacity or the will to do such a thing?

Scherzer is also at the end of his 7-year, $210 million contract. Scherzer’s 2021 salary at the start of the season was a little of $27 million. Would the Brewers be willing to trade assets and pay his remaining salary for the season, even if Scherzer and Boras agreed not to press for an extension?

And then there is what the Brewers would have to give up to get him. The price tag would be substantial in young talent going back. That said, the Nationals are a team that believes it can win in 2022 and beyond. Talent off the major league roster might do the trick as well. What would that look like is the question, and David Stearns’ openness to including what the Nationals would want is a question mark. Names like Keston Hiura, Luis Urias, Garrett Mitchell, Aaron Ashby, and Ethan Small would have to be include and probably more than one or maybe even two of them.

Right now the Nationals are 11 games out of the Wild Card and 7 games behind the New York Mets for the NL East with the Phillies and Braves both in front of them. The Nationals have a lot of money tied up into veterans, and it makes some sense to get a bit younger and surround Trea Turner and Juan Soto with other viable young players. Scherzer is their best means to do that. If the Nationals are willing to part with Scherzer, the Brewers are one of the least likely contenders to make such a trade happen on paper. Nonetheless, never say never.

Baseball statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Savant